Introduction: Deploying and Configuring IIS 6.0 with Remotely Stored Content on UNC Servers and NAS Devices

Applies To: Windows 7, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Vista

A common function of a Web server such as IIS is to accept requests for files from a Web client and service the request by obtaining the file and transmitting the contents back to the client. In many cases, files delivered to clients are stored locally on the IIS server. This is the optimum design for speed and also ensures that new content is delivered as soon as the files are updated. For installations with a few Web sites that deliver a small set of easy-to-manage files, hosting the content locally on the IIS server is the best choice from the simplicity and performance perspectives.

However, there are many situations where storing files on the IIS server is neither practical nor possible. Some systems have many files to manage and placing the content on the IIS server combines the tasks of managing the content and managing IIS on the same system. If the workload can be handled by a single server, it may be beneficial to keep the content locally, but it also creates administrative complexities when it is necessary to scale out by adding Web servers, because the file systems must be continually replicated between servers. Replication is time consuming, which can result in stale content being delivered or in other synchronization issues. Additionally, it is necessary to manage security on the file systems for multiple servers, adding yet another layer of complexity. Finally, as needs for file storage grow, you have to expand storage capabilities on each server—resulting in additional expense—and by having more hardware, you have increased exposure to downtime due to hardware failures.

To mitigate these problems, IIS can be used as a front end to deliver content stored on a remote system. This paper focuses on the configuration and tuning of IIS 6.0 and a remote server acting as a centralized store for files, applications, or other network resources made available to IIS using a UNC (Universal Naming Convention) pathname. While this discussion is limited to accessing Microsoft server operating systems acting as file servers, much of the information applies to other storage solutions where remote file shares accessed with UNC pathnames are employed, such as an NAS device.